The New Brunswick Police Commission’s handling of a probe into a senior police officer’s conduct in the murder investigation of millionaire businessman Richard Oland is an example of its “complete disregard of legislative rights,” the head of the New Brunswick Police Association says.
Bob Davidson, executive director of the organization representing municipal police officers, said Thursday the province’s independent police oversight body is “out of control,” and alleged the commission is being run in an “abusive, authoritarian fashion.”
He said the case of Glen McCloskey – a former deputy chief of the Saint John Police Force who came under scrutiny during the first murder trial of Dennis Oland – is “one more example of the commission completely ignoring legislative rights.”
“The McCloskey case points outs violations under both the Police Act and the Privacy Act,” Davidson said in an interview. “There has been a continued abuse of process and ignoring legislation.”
The provincial police commission could not immediately be reached for comment late Thursday.
In 2015, a witness alleged McCloskey asked him to change his testimony not to reveal the high-ranking officer had been at the crime scene.
McCloskey denied the allegation when he took the stand. He told the court he only entered Richard Oland’s office a short distance the first time, but later stepped between drops of blood to see into another room because he was curious.
He said he was there for about a minute with another officer when a forensics identification officer told them to leave.
The police commission agreed it would investigate his conduct once Oland’s trial had concluded.
The investigation was suspended in 2016 pending a Halifax Regional Police investigation into criminal allegations against McCloskey. After an eight-month probe, McCloskey was cleared of wrongdoing.
The commission, which had appointed former Fredericton police chief Barry MacKnight to lead its investigation into McCloskey’s conduct, resumed its investigation in the fall of 2016.
Davidson said he obtained documents that show MacKnight disregarded the findings by the Halifax police and “expressed his opinion that there were grounds for criminal charges.”
Although McCloskey retired before a hearing by the provincial police commission was held – the commission only investigates officers on active duty – it still gathered information on the matter.
Davidson alleged the police commission violated McCloskey’s privacy by giving its entire file on McCloskey to lawyers involved in the second Oland trial, prompting a complaint to the province’s Office of the Integrity Commissioner.
He said a decision earlier this month found the police commission did not have authority to disclose the information to Crown prosecutors or the defence team, and had breached McCloskey’s privacy in two instances by disclosing his personal information.
“Our officers are now living in a state of fear of this police commission as it’s being administered and we’re not going to tolerate it,” Davidson said, calling the situation “untenable.”
“We’re going to take whatever action necessary to bring back an oversight body that is professional and credible and administers the legislation with respect.”
He added: “It’s incumbent on the legislature to realize there is a police commission here that’s out of control and is causing nothing but fear among our officers.”